Auto boutiques-francophones Simple and secure cloud storage giftguide Countdown to Black Friday in Home & Kitchen Kindle Black Friday Deals Week in Music SGG Countdown to Black Friday in Lawn & Garden
Profil de Jennifer Cameron-Smith > Commentaires

Fiche d'identité

Contenu rédigé par Jennifer Camer...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 24
Helpful Votes: 848

Chez vous : découvrez nos services personnalisés en pages d'aide !

Commentaires écrits par
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
Nelly Dean
Nelly Dean
by Alison Case
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 13.43

4.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘Dear Mr Lockwood,..’, Nov. 24 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Nelly Dean (Paperback)
In a series of letters written to Mr Lockwood, the man to whom she’d formerly told the story of Cathy and Heathcliff, Ellen (Nelly) Dean writes of her life as a child and as a young woman at Wuthering Heights. This is the backstory, perhaps, for those of us who wondered what Wuthering Heights was like before Heathcliff arrived.

In ‘Nelly Dean’, Ms Case presents Nelly as having joined the Earnshaw household as a consequence of her mother’s friendship with Mrs Earnshaw. Mrs Dean had also been Hindley’s nurse. While Nelly knew that she was not really a member of the Earnshaw family, she was – for some years at least – more of a companion to the children than a servant. This changed after Heathcliff’s arrival: Mr Earnshaw banishes her for a slight to Heathcliff. Although, with Mrs Dean’s help, Nelly returns to Wuthering Heights, she is formally employed as a servant. But Nelly remains close to Hindley, and falls in love. This is Nelly’s story, and offers a different, more sympathetic perspective of how Hindley is led to ruination.

It’s a wonderfully detailed account of life at Wuthering Heights: the duties of a servant at a farm in rural England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; observations of the lives of the major characters of ‘Wuthering Heights’; explanations (some more plausible to me than others) of various events in the novel.

‘See, that’s how it is when you tell a story.’

I mostly enjoyed this novel. While I don’t envisage the backstory of Wuthering Heights in quite the same way as Ms Case, this novel mostly fits within the framework of my own imaginings and prejudices. For I do have prejudices: ‘Wuthering Heights’ has been my favourite novel for close to 50 years and Heathcliff and (to a lesser extent Cathy) are live in my imagination. This novel augments ‘Wuthering Heights’, it does not attempt to alter it materially, just to enrich it. Does it succeed? That will depend on how the reader approaches it. For me, the strength of this novel is the bringing to life of a central but secondary character. Nelly Dean the servant we know from ‘Wuthering Heights’ itself. Nelly Dean the woman, we do not. In ‘Nelly Dean’, the woman rather than the servant is central.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Modern Love: The lives of John and Sunday Reed
Modern Love: The lives of John and Sunday Reed
Prix : CDN$ 23.99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘John and Sunday’s first encounter was casual—at a tennis party at Vailima in mid-1930.’, Nov. 22 2015
Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan, curators at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne, have co-authored a fascinating double biography about John and Sunday Reed and the establishment of Heide. In their research for this book, Ms Harding and Ms Morgan have also spoken with the Reed’s remaining friends, and drawn on taped interviews. Reading the book, it becomes clear that they had access to a wealth of material.
A lot has been written about Heide, and it has also been drawn on in fictional settings. Who were John and Sunday Reed, where did they come from and what did they set out to achieve?

John and Sunday first met in 1930 and married on 13 January 1932. John (born John Harford Reed on 10 December 1901 at ‘Logan’, Evandale Tasmania) was a member of an affluent family of Tasmanian pastoralists, read law at Cambridge and had travelled before settling in Melbourne to work as a solicitor. Sunday, (born Lelda Sunday Baillieu 15 October 1905 in Camberwell) into the Baillieu dynasty in Victoria, was an heiress. Her first marriage was unsuccessful. John and Sunday shared a passion for art, literature and nature. In 1934, they purchased Heide (then a run-down 15 acre dairy farm) an established a self-sufficient and alternative lifestyle. The Reeds opened their home to like-minded individuals including artists as artists Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Danila Vassilieff. Heide became a place for the avant-garde: Sam Atyeo, Moya Dyring, Max Harris, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, Mirka Mora and Mike Brown also gathered there. With so much talent, a willingness to explore and innovate it’s hardly surprising that the existence of Heide resulted in changing and new creative landscapes.

This book explores the complex lives of those at the heart of Heide, their art and their complicated personal relationships. Romance, tragedy and achievement are each part of the story. Between 1934 and their deaths just ten days apart in 1981, John and Sunday Reed made an extraordinary contribution to the development of modern art in Australia. The book also includes a wealth of photos, as well as colour illustrations of many of the works mentioned.

If you are interested in modernist Australian Art, in the lives of John and Sunday Reed, in the establishment and development of Heide Museum of Modern Art, this is a book well worth reading. It is a detailed and beautifully presented account of the remarkable partnership between John and Sunday Reed and their impact on modern Australian art.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Melbourne University Publishing for the opportunity to read an copy of this book.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

The Lost World of Byzantium
The Lost World of Byzantium
by Jonathan Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 45.34
29 used & new from CDN$ 28.67

4.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘What is the legacy of Byzantium?’, Nov. 19 2015
In what he describes as a personal journey built around puzzling questions, and intriguing personalities and events, Jonathan Harris has looked at Byzantium’s long history. Most importantly, Mr Harris wanted to investigate why Byzantium lasted for as long as it did given the upheavals and invasions that threatened its existence and why, when it did end, it disappeared so completely. These are intriguing questions: Byzantium lasted for more than a millennium, in the location where East and West joined and during the period of transition between the classical and modern worlds. As a city and an empire, it was complex and full of contrasts.

Mr Harris has organised his book chronologically, with each chapter focussed on an event, a family, a person or a place. This presentation enables the reader to see events, and some of the key individuals, within a broader contextual setting. It makes it easier too, for me, an interested reader who is not an historian, to appreciate the development of Byzantium. It is also easier to understand how paganism combined with Orthodox Christianity (at least in part) rather than being totally supplanted by it. In some ways, Byzantium combined the best aspects of two classical worlds: Roman power, and classical Greek learning. And as the world expanded, Byzantium was well placed geographically for diplomacy and trade, to absorb new knowledge and to influence others.

Different emperors had different ways of defending Byzantium against invasion, of maintaining trade, and of building magnificent monuments. Some were far more successful than others. Byzantium survived because of its strength, and because it was willing to absorb (rather than resist) both people and ideas from outside. Over time, great strengths can become weaknesses: walls that once kept out invaders become weakened and provide points of entry.

I found this book interesting, and I’m keen to read some of the material Mr Harris has identified in his ‘Further Reading’ section. By describing a broad history and posing some interesting questions, this book sets the scene for a more detailed look at different aspects of Byzantium history and culture. If you are interested in the history of the Middle East, specifically of the role of Byzantium, you may also enjoy reading this book. I feel that I’ve only just scratched the surface.

‘Thus if Byzantium has one outstanding legacy it is not perhaps Orthodox Christianity or its preservation of classical Greek literature. Rather it is the lesson that the strength of a society lies in its ability to adapt and incorporate outsiders in even the most adverse circumstances.’

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Yale University Press, London for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

White Leopard
White Leopard
Prix : CDN$ 4.34

4.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘It was a beautiful morning.’, Nov. 19 2015
Ce commentaire est de: White Leopard (Kindle Edition)
Souleymane (known as Solo) Camara used to be a policeman in France. He’s escaped from France, leaving behind a murky past, to begin life afresh in Bamako, Mali. Here, living in his late father’s house, Solo work as a private investigator. Solo has learned a lot about how power works in Mali, how who you know and how much you pay can get results. He’s doing okay.

But then he’s approached by Farah Tebessi, a Parisian lawyer to look into the arrest of her sister Bahia. Bahia has been arrested as a drug trafficker. She had 13 kilos of cocaine hidden in her luggage. Can Solo help? He’s been recommended to Ms Tebessi by his former boss.

‘I have a saying: in Mali everything’s possible and nothing’s certain.’

But freeing Bahia becomes the beginning of Solo Camara’s nightmare. There are plenty of people with an interest in protecting a drug empire, and murder is of no concern to them. But who is in control? Any possibility that Solo could walk away from this case is quickly removed: it’s become personal.

And while Solo works on solving the case, we learn more about his past. About how he’s in the position he’s in, and why this case matters. This is a fast-paced story, with an abundance of bribery, death, sex and violence.

I enjoyed it, and I hope Laurent Guillaume writes more novels featuring Solo Camara.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Le French Book for an opportunity to read an advance copy of this novel.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Born to Rule: The unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull
Born to Rule: The unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull
Prix : CDN$ 22.37

4.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘Turnbull had been talked about as a future prime minister since before he could remember.’, Nov. 17 2015
On 15 September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull MP was sworn in as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister.

But who is Malcolm Turnbull, and what does he stand for?

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954), has been a member of parliament since 2004, representing the NSW seat of Wentworth. He has had careers as a journalist, a lawyer and as a businessman before being elected to the Australian Parliament. In this book, an unauthorised biography, Paddy Manning—a Sydney journalist—documents Malcolm Turnbull’s life and career. Mr Manning’s investigations have drawn on interviews with others and have involved detailed research. The biography was not authorised by Malcolm Turnbull, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage. An advantage in that Mr Manning could report his impressions and conclusions independently, a disadvantage in that while the records tell what has happened, motivation can sometimes only be assumed.

From looking back over Malcolm Turnbull’s career to date, it’s clear that he is energetic, intelligent and focussed. It is also clear that he defies any neat categorisation. His achievements include beating the Thatcher Government in the Spycatcher trial in the late 1980s, clearing the way for the publication of ‘Spycatcher’ by Peter Wright. He also defended Kerry Packer—codenamed Goanna— during the Costigan Royal Commission (officially titled the Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union) during the 1980s. He later had to defend his own role in the collapse of HIH in 2001—Australia’s largest corporate collapse. Malcolm Turnbull was also heavily involved in what became a failed attempt by referendum in 1999 to change Australia’s constitution to enable the establishment of a republic. Malcolm Turnbull’s successes in business included co-founding, with Sean Howard and Trevor Kennedy, OzEmail in the early 1990s. Malcolm Turnbull has a long list of achievements.

In 2004, Malcolm Turnbull was elected to the Australian Parliament. In 2008, he was elected leader of the Liberal Party and of the opposition coalition. In 2009, his judgement was questioned after the ‘Utegate’ fiasco, and in December that year was replaced by Tony Abbott as leader. Who would have thought, then, that less than six years later Malcolm Turnbull would be Prime Minister?
I found this book interesting. It provides a lot of detail about Malcolm Turnbull, and a comprehensive chronology of his life so far. While I remember many of the public events (especially the Spycatcher trial, the republic referendum and ‘Utegate’) I knew less about Mr Turnbull’s business involvements. Together Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy make a formidable team. Will all that energy and intelligence make Malcolm Turnbull an effective prime minister? I hope so. I guess that we’ll have to wait to see.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Melbourne University for an opportunity to read a copy of this biography.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Nirvana (Nirvana Series Book 1)
Nirvana (Nirvana Series Book 1)
Prix : CDN$ 7.90

4.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘What is real and what isn’t?’, Nov. 15 2015
In a world without bees, food production is a challenge. Eighty percent of plant life and food has been wiped out, together with the bees. The elite live in the Bubble, there’s a think tank – and troops – at the Barracks, and the Farm, where people struggle to produce food, and survive. This world is controlled by the totalitarian corporation Hexagon. There’s also a virtual reality world, called Nirvana, where some can escape for a while – if they can afford it.

Larissa Kenders, or Kenders as she prefers to be called, and her partner Andrew are part of this world. He is a scientist working on virtual reality, she is a musician. Their lives are constrained: Hexagon keeps almost everyone under surveillance. People who rock the boat in anyway tend to disappear. And then Andrew is reported dead and the only relief Kenders can find is through her escapes into Nirvana. Although she can choose to explore any world, she prefers Earth. It’s where Andrew is. When she meets Andrew in this virtual world, she is convinced that he is not dead.
Kenders is in danger. What is real, and what isn’t? Who can she trust? And what really happened to Andrew? Others have disappeared as well, and it’s clear that Hexagon is monitoring Kenders and others very closely. Technology is a double-edged sword.

This is the first novel in what will be a three part series. J R Stewart’s dystopian world is particularly uncomfortable. The natural catastrophe is feasible and much of the technology is recognisable. I read an earlier version of this novel and appreciate the changes that have been made in this version. J R Stewart has further developed both the world and the people in it, and I am looking forward to the next instalment. ‘Nirvana’ is an interesting variation on the dystopian theme.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this novel.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Death of a Murderer
Death of a Murderer
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Prix : CDN$ 12.99

4.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘It’s like what you did has got worse with the passing of time -‘, Nov. 12 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Death of a Murderer (Kindle Edition)
In November 2002, Police Constable Billy Tyler is assigned twelve hours of night duty at a hospital mortuary in Suffolk. His job? To guard the body of a notorious murderer. While the murder is not named in the novel, it is clearly the notorious child-killer Myra Hindley. Billy’s job is to guard the body, to ensure that nothing happens. Billy’s wife Sue does not want him to accept the assignment. She is frightened of what might happen in the presence of such evil.

Billy sees the job as just another assignment. He is to guard the mortuary, to make a note of all who enter it during the course of the night. The body itself is locked away, and Billy does not have a key. During the twelve hours, he will have two breaks in his duty.

As the night passes, Billy becomes more aware of the dead woman’s presence. He is also increasingly aware of his own anxieties - about his marriage, and about his disabled daughter Emma. Billy also remembers some of his own past actions as silence surrounds and weighs down on him. During the night he is visited by the ghost of the dead woman. He sees her, he smells her cigarette smoke, and he is questioned by her. And those questions lead him into places in his own past which cause discomfort.

Once started, I found this novel very difficult to put down. It is not about the murderer and her crimes, it’s about the man who finds himself guarding her corpse. It’s about the (almost inevitable, surely) self-examination that becomes part of such duty during the night. Staying vigilant in such surrounding in such circumstances enables (or does it require?) a greater degree of self-awareness. Or does it? Will Billy’s life change as a consequence, or will the issues he considers recede (back) into the background once his duty is over?

Perhaps I’ll read this novel again, when I’ve had an opportunity to think more about Billy’s life and less about the murderer. This is one of those
novels which is complex and uncomfortable, beautifully written and confronting.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Give the Devil His Due (The Rowland Sinclair Mysteries Book 7)
Give the Devil His Due (The Rowland Sinclair Mysteries Book 7)
Prix : CDN$ 8.99

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Rowland Sinclair's dealings with the press were rarely so civil., Nov. 9 2015
This is the seventh novel in Ms Gentill's historical crime series which features Rowland Sinclair and is set during the 1930s. Rowland Sinclair is a wealthy gentleman artist who lives in a Woollahra mansion with his greyhound Lenin and an assortment of bohemian friends including Edna Higgins, a sculptor for whom he has feelings, and Clyde Watson Jones, a landscape painter, who can also be handy with his fists.
In this novel, Rowland Sinclair is planning to race his yellow 1927 Mercedes S-Class at the Maroubra speedway for a charity race in aid of the Red Cross. When a journalist who interviews him is killed, Rowland Sinclair is caught up in the mystery surrounding his murder. Sinclair was one of the last people to see the journalist alive. Who killed the journalist, and why?

The story, which incorporates some real characters such as the young Rosaleen Norton (known in later years as the 'Witch of King's Cross'), the poet Kenneth Slessor, the actor Errol Flynn, the painter Norman Lindsay and Arthur Stace ( Sydney's 'Eternity' man), moves at a rapid pace. The journalist's murder is only the first, and it seems that someone is after Rowland Sinclair as well.

I really enjoyed this novel. There are plenty of twists and turns as Sinclair and his friends try to find out who killed the journalist. Ms Gentill has a great mix of characters, and the use of actual newspaper articles from the period as chapter openings serves to reinforce the setting. I loved the depiction of Errol Flynn (he fits right in, naturally) and wanted to know more about Arthur Stace. While some aspects of the story clearly draw on facts established in earlier novels, it is possible to read (and enjoy) this novel on a standalone basis. Across this series, Ms Gentill has drawn on the political unrest that followed the Great Depression. Her exploration of the tensions between the communist and fascist sympathisers, her blending of history and fiction provide an intriguing setting.

But back to the mystery: it's a great read, and I'm looking to read the rest of the series.

Note: My thanks to Pantera Press for providing me with a copy of the novel for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

The Conquerors: How Portugal seized the Indian Ocean and forged the First Global Empire
The Conquerors: How Portugal seized the Indian Ocean and forged the First Global Empire
Prix : CDN$ 9.99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘How Portugal seized the Indian Ocean and forged the First Global Empire’, Oct. 12 2015
Portugal had a population of about one million people at the beginning of the fifteenth century. A tiny country, with an economy which largely depended on fishing and subsistence farming. A country where the kings were too poor to mint their own gold coins. But, as Mr Crowley writes, a country with big aspirations.

‘In August 1415, a Portuguese fleet sailed across the Strait of Gibraltar and stormed the Muslim port of Ceuta, in Morocco, one of the most heavily fortified and strategic strongholds in the whole Mediterranean.’

In Ceuta, the Portuguese saw a glimpse of the wealth of Africa and the Orient, and dared to dream of expansion, of conquering infidels, and of trade like that enjoyed by Genoa and Venice. After Ceuta, Prince Henrique (Prince Henry the Navigator) began to sponsor expeditions down the coast of Africa in search of gold, slaves and spices. The Portuguese also explored inland Africa for the mythical Christian king Prester John. Portugal was also driven by a desire to eradicate Islamic culture, and to establish a Christian empire in the Indian Ocean.

Mr Crowley has drawn on letters and eyewitness accounts to write of Portugal’s rapid rise to power. Some of the major characters portrayed in this account of the Portuguese empire were King Manuel (the Fortunate), João II (the Perfect Prince), the governor Afonso de Albuquerque, and the explorer Vasco da Gama.

How did Portugal achieve such dominance in such a short period? By discovering a route to India around the horn of Africa – achieved by sailing out west from the African coast in order to use the Atlantic winds to sail east around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean.

‘Though its supremacy lasted little more than a century, Portugal’s achievement was to create the prototype for new and flexible forms of empire, based on mobile sea power, and the paradigm for European expansion. Where it led, the Dutch and the English followed.’

I found Mr Crowley’s account fascinating. While I knew some of the history of Prince Henry the Navigator, of Vasco da Gama and (later) of Ferdinand Magellan, I had not focussed on the detail and the impact of the Portuguese empire. The history of Portuguese exploration is well worth reading: it is an epic tale of courage, endurance and brutality, of skilled navigation, of diplomacy and of religious zealotry. And, supporting the public figures we can name and read about, are many unknown sailors who suffered illness, disease and frequently death. Afonso de Albuquerque became the first European since Alexander the Great to found an Asian empire.

‘The Iberian powers who had carved up the world at Tordesillas in 1494 were conditioned to believe in monopoly trading and the obligation to crusade.’

Portuguese supremacy may have only lasted just over a century, but during that period the Portuguese reached India in 1498, Brazil in 1500, China in 1514 and Japan in 1543.

Note: My thanks to Netgalley and the Random House Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Me, Antman & Fleabag
Me, Antman & Fleabag
by Gayle Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from CDN$ 18.66

5.0 étoiles sur 5 ‘Me, Antman and our mongrel, Fleabag, like partyin outside.’, Oct. 11 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Me, Antman & Fleabag (Paperback)
In twenty-two thought-provoking vignettes, Ms Kennedy introduces us to the world of an Aboriginal woman (our narrator, whose name we never discover), her partner Antman and their dog Fleabag. These vignettes are full of quirky characters, of black humour and of reminders that Aboriginal Australia still often remains quite separate from the Australia that many of us occupy.

Our narrator, Antman, and Fleabag travel across Australia. They meet eccentric relatives, including Cousin Moodle, whose love of funerals once has her falling into a grave. They meet Old Mother Howard, a drunk woman with ‘flaky, grey skin she’s always pickin at.’ Old Mother Howard and her husband Old Mick Howard are ‘whitefullas’. While they’re not related to ‘our mob .. all the blackfullas look out for the kids’ because they feel sorry for them. The Howards have six red-haired children, each with an extra finger and toe on each hand and foot.

There are darker stories as well, especially the story of how Bess and Vic met in ‘The Golden Wedding Anniversary’ and in ‘Grandfather’s Medals’. These stories are reminders that equality is still sometimes only a word.

While the language in these vignettes is often colloquial, it’s appropriate for the stories being told. The narrator is having a conversation with the reader, recounting events from her own viewpoint and in her own style. While the style is warm and frequently humorous, humour is part of the observation and telling of the story, not usually an end in itself. It’s a book to read, and to think about.

Ms Kennedy won the 2006 David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writing for ‘Me, Antman & Fleabag’. This is a book which deserves a much wider readership.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20